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Medical therapy is the foundation upon which all treatment for patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) is based, regardless of whether revascularization is performed. Although professional societies recommend comprehensive lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions with specific risk factor targets, in practice this does not usually occur. The COURAGE (Clinical Outcomes Utilizing Revascularization and Aggressive Drug Evaluation) trial tested multiple simultaneous lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions (referred to as "optimal medical therapy" [OMT]) with or without percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) in patients with stable CAD. Nurse case managers were trained to counsel patients according to protocols designed to achieve predefined lifestyle and risk factor goals. Medications were provided at no cost to patients. Adherence to lifestyle and medication prescription was very high and resulted in significant improvement in risk factor targets. COURAGE found no benefit from the addition of PCI to OMT in the primary outcome of death or myocardial infarction. OMT as delivered in COURAGE has been praised but it has also been criticized as not achievable in "real world" clinical practice. The authors, all COURAGE investigators, believe that the delivery of OMT in COURAGE represents a viable model for secondary prevention that can be translated to real practice, but acknowledge that it is difficult to do so in our fee-for-service health care system. New models of team-based healthcare to achieve evidence-based treatment targets and improved clinical outcomes are needed. Successful translation of COURAGE OMT to everyday practice will require a health care system that rewards quality of care.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s11936-010-0104-7
View details for PubMedID 21120640